A Guide to the Arlington County (Va.) Record of Ministers' Certificates, 1801-1850 Arlington County (Va.) Record of Ministers' Certificates, 1801-1850 Barcode number 1100402/Arlington County (Va.) Reel 55

A Guide to the Arlington County (Va.) Record of Ministers' Certificates, 1801-1850

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Collection numbers: Barcode number 1100402/Arlington County (Va.) Reel 55


Library of Virginia

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© 2007 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Library of Virginia staff

The Library of Virginia
Collection numbers
Barcode number 1100402/Arlington County (Va.) Reel 55
Arlington County (Va.) Record of Ministers' Certificates, 1801-1850
Physical Characteristics
1 v.; 1 microfilm reel
Arlington County (Va.) Circuit Court.
State Records Center - Archives Annex, Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Use microfilm copy, Arlington County (Va.) Reel 55.

Preferred Citation

Arlington County (Va.) Record of Ministers' Certificates, 1801-1850. Arlington County (Va) Reel 55, Local government records collection, Arlington County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, 23219.

Acquisition Information

This item came to the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia) in a transfer of court papers from Arlington County.

Microfilm Reel 55 was generated in-house by the Virginia State Library's Microfilm Section.

Historical Information

Arlington County was originally named Alexandria County. The county was formed from a portion of Fairfax County that Virginia in 1789 ceded to the federal government for use as the site of a new national capital. In 1801, the area officially became part of the District of Columbia, although Congress named it Alexandria County. By an act of 9 July 1846, Congress returned the county to Virginia, and the General Assembly extended the commonwealth's jurisdiction over the region effective 20 March 1847. The county's name was changed by an act of assembly passed 16 March 1920 to Arlington, the name of the Custis family mansion (the home of Robert E. Lee), which is located in the county.

Prior to 1853, when the Commonwealth began recording vital statistics, Virginia marriages were recorded at the county or city level. Beginning in 1661, in order to be married by license, the groom was required to go before the county clerk and give bond with security that there was no lawful reason to prevent the marriage. The license, issued then by the clerk, was given to the minister who performed the service. Written consent from a parent or guardian was needed for individuals younger than twenty-one years.

Until 1780, marriages could be performed only by ministers of the Established Church, who were required by law to record marriages in the parish register. In 1780, dissenting ministers (only four per county from each sect) wer permitted to perform marriage ceremonies. In order to have a record of all marriages, ministers were required to sign a certificate to be filed with the county clerk. Initially, ministers sent marriage certificates to the clerk every three months. Some ministers adopted a custom of making collected returns--a list of marriages performed within a period of time such as a year or several years. Beginning in 1784, marriage certificates were returned annually. The law was rarely enforced, and ministers' returns were sometimes late, incorrect, incomplete and in many instances, not made at all. County clerks compiled a register of marriages based, in part, on ministers' returns.

The marriage certificates and ministers' returns found in this volume were created by the Alexandria County Court, the Alexandria County Circuit Court and Washington (D.C)'s Circuit Court.

Scope and Content

Arlington County (Va.) Record of Ministers' Certificates, 1801-1850, records the returns made by individual ministers performed within the county and the District of Columbia. Some returns in this volume take the form of registers which record the date when the marriage was solemnized, the parties names, when married and by whom. Later, these registers also indicate the date of the marriage license. Other returns in this volume are in the form of lists which record when the parties were married, the names of the parties, the minister's name and denomination. Along with these returns, the ministers' filed marriage certificates with the county clerk. These signed documents certified that a minister had performed the actual marriage ceremony between the named individuals on a certain date. Marriages between free blacks or free persons of color are noted between 1808-1822 and 1841-1848. All pages in this volume are unnumbered.

Related Material

Additional Arlington County Marriage Records can be found on microfilm at the Library of Virginia. Consult "A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm"

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Arlington County (Va.) Circuit Court.
  • Subjects:

  • Christian sects--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Clergy--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Free African Americans--Marriage--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Free African Americans--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Marriage--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Geographical Names:

  • Alexandria County (Va.)--History--19th century.
  • Arlington County (Va.)--History.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Local government records--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Marriage certificates--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Marriage records--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Ministers' returns--Virginia--Arlington County.
  • Added Entry - Corporate Name:

  • Alexandria County (Va.) Circuit Court.
  • Alexandria County (Va.) County Court.
  • Washington (D.C.) Circuit Court.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Alexandria County (Va.)--History--19th century.
  • Arlington County (Va.)--History.